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More Database Handouts: Step by Step with the Oxford English Dictionary

Sometimes popular and general databases are not enough. Learn to search more social science, local, statistical, and education, and dictionary databases step-by-step.

Step by Step with the Oxford English Dictionary

Step by Step with the Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary, or OED for short, is probably the most extensive and complete dictionary of the English language. If you want to know what a word means, its origin, or how its use has changed with time, the OED is the place to go.

  1. To search the OED, open the library web page and scroll down to the alphabet below the big Discovery box .

  2. Then select O and scroll down. The Oxford English Dictionary is at the bottom of the list.

    The big GALILEO alphabetical listing on the library web page

  3. The OED opens with a big cream colored search box spanning the width of the page.

    The Oxford English Dictionary search box

  4. Type in a word and hit the go button.
  5. Sometimes the OED gives you a choice of the same word as more than one part of speech. The part of speech is a single italic letter written after the word. Choose the part of speech that makes the most sense to you.
  6. ;
  7. Quotes, often with old fashioned spellings appear with each definition. These show how famous writers have used the word over time. In the complete entry, the last examples show more current usage. The older examples show how a word and definition's use has changed.
  8. To see other less used or specialized definitions, scroll further down the page.
  9. Clicking Etymology gives the word's origins and history. Note: these often include old fashioned spellings and arcane abbreviations. Ask a librarian for help with these.
  10. To start a new search, just type a word in to the search box in the top right corner of the screen and click go.
  11. To end an OED session, click your browser's Home Icon or close your browser or tab window.